Bitcoin transactions have been shown to rise in volume in Russia and Venezuela, as demonstrated by the charts on popular peer-to-peer platform LocalBitcoins.
In Venezuela, hyperinflation of the bolivar, restrictions placed on the citizens’ ability to move gold and other national fiat currencies out of the country, along with capital controls imposed by the government, has led to a growing number of people finding the use of bitcoin as a viable solution. Wages are low, supermarket shelves are bare of many essential items, even after people have waited on long lines. In some cases, people have been assisted in leaving Venezuela by friends and family in the United States and other countries to relocate in places like Spain or Portugal.
Venezuelans have been acquiring bitcoin mainly through the Bitcoin exchange SurBitcoin, in addition to using LocalBitcoins or conducting private peer to peer transactions, with those whose skills lend themselves to working online, freelance writers, graphic designers, web developers and the like making arrangements to be paid for their work in bitcoin, using websites like XBTFreelancer.
Given the situation, remittances of bitcoin by friends and family in the United States and other countries to Venezuelans back home no doubt go a very long way, especially considering the lower transaction fees for bitcoin address to address transfers when compared to the fees charged by services like MoneyGram, Western Union or PayPal.
In Russia, while it appears that there are no laws officially on the books banning the use of bitcoin, there have been attempts at getting them passed as well as de facto discouragement, which given the country’s history has led to greater underground and clandestine use of bitcoin, most likely through private, peer to peer transactions.
In August, it was reported that a physical Bitcoin exchange in Moscow allows people to sell bitcoin for rubles. The exchange is operated by a group known as BTC24pro.com, operating through LocalBitcoins.
This development would have an impact on the increase in the volume of exchange transactions recorded by LocalBitcoins.
Featured image from Shutterstock. Charts from Coindance.